As well as the Museum of the 24 Hours of Le Mans stand featuring the pioneering 1928 front-wheel drive Tracta Gephi, the history of Le Mans is in the spotlight elsewhere at the Paris Rétromobile show (7-11 February). Here’s a look a some of the treasures on show.
-Let’s start with the DPPI photography agency stand and one of the most famous images in the race’s history – that of the last ever ‘Le Mans start’ where the drivers ran towards their cars. It was Saturday 14 June 1969. Instead of running, Ickx strolled over to his car but twenty-four hours later, in the final lap of the race, the Ford GT40 he drove with Jackie Oliver stormed past Hans Herrmann’s Porsche 908 to win the race.
-The stand presented by watchmaker Richard Mille, the new President of the FIA Endurance Commission, takes a look back at the achievements of McClaren, from Formula One, the CanAm and GT, to the F1 GTR that triumphed at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1995 with Yannick Dalmas, JJ Lehto and Masanori Sekiya at the wheel.
-In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 1978 Renault-Alpine victory, the French marque is exhibiting the four cars fielded at Le Mans that year. Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud were first past the chequered flag in the #2 car, while Guy Fréquelin, José Dolhem, Jean Ragnotti and Jean Pierre Jabouille finished fourth in #4. The Renault-Alpines driven by Patrick Depailler and Jean-Pierre Jabouille (#1) and Derek Bell and Jean-Pierre Jarier (n°3) didn’t make it to the finish.
-In Hall 3 of Rétromobile, there is a tribute to French driver Jean-Pierre Wimille (1908-1949), who took Le Mans victory for Bugatti twice (1937 and 1939). This includes three models of the road car he designed shortly before his death. Unusually, the car’s driver's seat is placed in the centre, slightly forward of the two passenger seats. The same configuration was found in the McLaren F1 GTR mentioned above half a century later.
-LMP2 and LMP3 chassis builder Onroak Automotive is exhibiting at Rétromobile for the first time and showing off two open-top prototypes designed almost forty years apart: the Morgan that won the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Oak Racing in 2013 with Bertrand Baguette, Martin Plowman and Ricardo Gonzalez at the wheel, and the 1972/1973 Duckhams, the first prototype designed by South African engineer Gordon Murray, designer of the McLaren F1 GTR that won in 1995.
-A scale model of the Duckhams can be found on the Chrono 43 stand, in a diorama that recreates the atmosphere of the 1973 24 Hours of Le Mans, as experienced in the pitlane and the paddock. That year saw the final official Ferrari entry in the prototype classes in a tense head-to-head with eventual winners, Matra.
-Still with the scale models, Profil 24 remembers the internal rivalry at Ferrari at the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the spat between the 250 LM driven by the winners Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt (red, entered by Luigi Chinetti’s NART) and that of runners-up Pierre Dumay and Gustave Gosselin (yellow, fielded by Jacques Swaters’ Ecurie Francorchamps). That was the ninth – and to date, last – overall victory for the Prancing Horse.
Photo: There will be autograph sessions on the Museum of the 24 Hours of Le Mans stand on Friday 9 (14:30- 16:00), Saturday 10 (14:30- 16:00) and Sunday 11 February (10:30-12:00 then 14:00-16:30) (Paris time). Come along and meet Christian Papazoglakis, Johannes Roussel and Denis Bernard who work on the Glénat graphic novel collection devoted to the 24 Hours, and the graphic artists from the Archimède design agency specialised in the 24 Hours.